Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv has announced that the Gabriel family from Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown will represent the Diocese of Parramatta at the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) to be held in Dublin on 21-26 August 2018. Conrad, Natalia, Chris and Cate Gabriel have shared with Catholic Outlook their family story and what they hope to experience at WMOF.
We, the Gabriel family, have been residents of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown since relocating to Bungarribee in late 2013, and prior to that we were parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Greystanes. We immigrated to Sydney in late 2000 from India, having previously lived in Bombay or Mumbai as it is now known.
Conrad Michael, the live wire of the family is of mixed descent (part Jewish, part Anglo-Indian, part Goan-Portuguese) and grew up in Bombay as the eldest of three children. Until middle school, he studied at St Mary’s School run by the Jesuits and finished his schooling as a boarder at another St Mary’s at Mt. Abu, under the loving but firm discipline of Irish Christian brothers. He qualified in international travel ticketing and tourism and continues to work in this industry, currently employed with BCD Travel.
Natalia Ann (Carr) is an Anglo-Indian and grew up in Vijayawada, known for its blazing hot summers and equally hot cuisine. The eldest of five children, she completed her schooling under the guidance of the Sisters of St Ann and graduated under the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. She left home to work in Bombay (…where she met Conrad!) and today works with Citibank.
Conrad and Natalia Ann were married in June 1993 and were immediately blessed with Chris Aaron who came along before our first anniversary. A year later Conrad visited Sydney and his experience led us to apply for immigration to Australia. A three year wait ensued by which time Cate Mariah joined our family, just in time for the approval of permanent visas (to Australia). In November 2000, shortly after the Sydney Olympics, we gratefully and excitedly moved to Australia.
How time flies!
In the 17 years we’ve been in Sydney, we have been infinitely blessed. Chris completed his schooling at St Paul’s Catholic College, Greystanes, and recently graduated from WSU with a Bachelor of Music. Although gentle and soft-spoken, he is a passionate musician and drummer, plays with a couple of bands and works as a barista. Cate is slightly nervously, sitting the HSC exams this month at Catherine McAuley, Westmead and hopes to pursue a degree in psychology or marketing. She is also a pianist and is ardent about Girl Guide activities particularly Gang Show performances at Riverside Theatre.
We Gabriels relish travelling and camping, and aim for at least one family getaway every year. We also enjoy soccer, bush walks, beaches, movies, get-togethers and gardening. However, our daily pastime is fussing over our adorable Maltese dog Cuddles who, at age 12, has overtaken us in human years.
We were fortunate to have been born into our faith and blessed to have a quiet Catholic influence that has shaped and sustained our marriage and family unit. Our children have been stimulated by faith formation activities such as parish youth activities, the Australian Catholic Youth Festival and World Youth Day 2016. We are an ordinary migrant family with our fair share of ups and downs but more ups than downs, thank you Lord! With so much to be grateful for, we endeavour to give something back to community by engaging in ministries such as Marriage Encounter, Parish council/liturgy/RCIA/Communion to the sick, Compeer, Men Alive, etc. Again we consider ourselves richly renewed by a vibrant parish community lead by exemplary priests, who simply inspire us to live better.
We are overwhelmed that our family has been invited to consider representing the Diocese of Parramatta at WMOF 2018. Experiencing this coming together of families at a global level will undoubtedly be uplifting and will reinforce our personal bonds and renew our passion – as the WMOF hymn states – ‘to walk humbly with God’.
We thank you all immensely for the gift of this blessing.